You know when you stumble upon a restaurant and you think, “Ooh I like that look of that!”? Well that’s what happened when I met my friend Frederique for lunch in Covent Garden just after Christmas. We decided to make our way to the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn for a drink in the fabulous Scarfes Bar and it was then that I stumbled upon Barrafina, tucked away on a nondescript corner on Drury Lane and away from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden.
A few weeks later, I suggested to my husband that we try it for lunch. They don’t take reservations so we just turned up at around 2pm and although it was busy we were lucky to be seated straight away. There are no tables, just bar counter seating, which is great as you can watch the chefs at work. All of the staff are Spanish, so it almost feels as though you are in Madrid or Barcelona, rather than central London!
One of the waiters ran through the menu with us and also explained the specials, which change daily. There are lots of options to choose from and also lots of vegetarian and fish dishes if you’re not a meat eater.
The bar itself is beautiful … a marble top with just enough space inbetween diners and lovely red leather stools to sit on. There are lots of windows so it’s bright and light and there’s just a great ambience. You can also see the fresh seafood on offer, which lies on a bed of ice on a counter behind the chefs. It’s a bit like the food stalls you find in markets in Spain but more upmarket.
We decided to go for bread and olive oil (a staple for my Italian husband), Iberico ham, a salad that was very simple but oh so tasty and chips with a sort of bravas sauce and aioli to start.
We then opted for the fish stew special, which proved to be quite popular. It was filled with different types of fish, mussels, calamari and prawns and was served with some toasted bread. It was sumptious! It looked and smelled (and of course, tasted) so delicious that the people next to us promptly ordered it after spying ours. The sauce was amazing – rich, tomatoey and full of fresh herbs. The toasted bread was perfect for mopping up the sauce and we were offered extra bread too. We chose to have the rose cava to accompany our meal.
Still feeling just a little peckish, we ordered the milk-fed lamb shank served with rocket. It was so tender and the jus was so delicious! Definitely worth ordering if you like lamb. We were really tempted by the massive veal chop that the people next to us had opted for and the chicken wings on the other side of us also looked amazing…. I think it’s fair to say that you’ll probably not be disappointed, whatever you order.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. The restaurant is stylish, has a great ambience and the service was really good – attentive but not overly fussy. The choice on the menu was ample and the food itself was very yummy. We will definitely be going back for round two!
I do still love Iberica (in fact, we had lunch there on Saturday) but it may now have a contender for my favourite tapas in London!